Title: Les Misérables
Author: Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty. A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, Les Misérables is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830.
Victor Hugo must have been one of those authors who got paid by the word because this book is much longer than it needed to be. Sometimes that was fine, this is so well written I don’t care if it goes on forever, other times were more like oh my god this better have a point. Spoiler: it usually doesn’t.
I liked the main story. I even liked some parts that were completely irrelevant to the plot, parts that Hugo wrote in his quest to make the book as long as possible. He goes off topic as soon as the book starts, talking about a random bishop’s life for more than a hundred pages. I’m glad I didn’t have to read this book in high school – I would have absolutely hated it.
My favorite part was the revolution, my least favorite was the oh-so-cheesy romance between Marius and Cosette. I could have done without the description of the Paris sewers, too.
I read the Croatian translation of the first half of this book and the English translation of the second half. I hope that someday I’ll read it in French.